Can You Recycle Plastic Plant Pots? (Don’t Make These Mistakes)

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

If you enjoy plants, then you probably have had your fair share of plant pots over the years. However, something needs to be done with those plant pots to make sure they are properly recycled. 

Furthermore, when that time comes, you will be faced with a series of questions about what to do with that plastic plant pot. For example, are they recyclable? What is the most eco-friendly way to discard these pots? Well, continue reading for these answers and more!

Can You Recycle Plastic Plant Pots?

Non-black plastic pots can be recycled. However, before you put them in the bin or return them to a nursery, you should clean and sanitize them. Doing this will kill any lingering plant pathogens that might still be there. Furthermore, once this is done, you can hand them over to people who will recycle or upcycle them. 

Continue reading to learn how you can properly recycle and upcycle your old plastic plant pots!

How To Recycle Plastic Plant Pots?

If you are used to throwing your plastic plant pots in the recycle bin every spring, it is time to rethink that practice. 

This needs to be done as there are now much stricter laws in place governing what type of plastics can be recycled. 

Furthermore, this is due to certain contaminants that are on and in the plastic. 

Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that black plastic plant pots cannot be recycled at all due to a specific pigment in the color that renders them unusable again in the future. 

However, you can recycle other plant pots if they go through a specific process. 

All you will need to do is clean the pot and decontaminate it before thinking of putting it in a recycling bin. 

Although if you do not want to put them in your recycling bin, many hardware stores, such as Lowes and Home Depot, will allow you to drop off your plastic plant pots and trays. 

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This is a great gesture because, in many cases, they will be reused which keeps them from being thrown in a landfill. 

Furthermore, the store will see to it that they get disposed of properly for those that they cannot use.  

What Materials Are Plastic Plant Pots Made Of?

One of the primary reasons why plastic plant pots seem to be everywhere is that they are so cheap.

However, that does not always mean that they are good for the environment. 

Furthermore, the vast majority of plastic plant pots are made from High-Density Polyethylene, while others are made up of Polypropylene. 

Unfortunately, these materials are comprised of various chemical compounds that are very difficult to break down during the recycling process. 

Are Plastic Plant Pots Biodegradable? 

Are Plastic Plant Pots Biodegradable? 

It would be great if plastic plant pots broke down naturally in the soil, unfortunately, that has not always been the case. 

Many of the plastic plant pots in production today are made of chemical compounds that will not break down for centuries. 

Therefore, you cannot just plant them in the soil and then forget about them. 

However, there are now biodegradable plastic plant pots available on the market. 

This is great as they offer many of the same advantages as regular plastic plant pots, namely that they are simple to carry and that they last for a long time. 

Furthermore, the major advantage of this new type of pot is that it will naturally break down in the soil over time. 

This has many implications for the environment as many homeowners alone can go through dozens of plastic plant pots every planting season.

Additionally, in areas of the country with heavy amounts of garden activity going on, this has almost become unmanageable. 

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However, biodegradable plastic plant pots are a real game-changer. 

This is because you can take the plant and put it in the earth, pot and all, and after awhile it wil decompose.

How To Reuse And Upcycle Plastic Plant Pots?

If you are concerned with how difficult it is to recycle plastic plant pots, but you do not want to just throw them out, there are some great ways to reuse them. 

Furthermore, just clean them out and then consider any of the following uses for them. 

  • Use them as a fruit and vegetable strainer – Since plastic plant pots typically have holes at the bottom, you can place your fruits and vegetables in them to clean off all of the dirt and grime that might be on them. Wait for the water to drain and then remove them. 
  • Place objects on them off the ground so you can paint them – You can put some of the pots down on the ground and then place something like a cabinet to get it high enough so you can paint. This will make it easier for you to reach every corner of the object and do a great job in the end. 
  • Store your holiday ornaments in them – You can separate your ornaments and put them in their respective pots. They store away quite easily in a closet until you are ready to use them the following year. 
  • Use them as a salt sifter – For this, you will use two pots separate by about an inch. Pour a bunch of rock salt in the top one and then start gently shaking so that the salt does not come out of the holes too quickly. You can shake the salt over ice in the winter to keep people from slipping as you walk. 
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If you look around the house, you can probably find many more uses for plastic plant pots. 

The key is to keep providing them with a useful function so that you aren’t tempted to just toss them in the trash. 

Where To Recycle Plastic Plant Pots? 

It is important to know where to recycle plastic plant pots. 

Furthermore, most colored pots can be planted in the recycle bin, but do not place any black ones there. 

Additionally, you are also able to take them to a garden supply store as most of them will take care of the recycling for you. 

Are Plastic Plant Pots Bad For The Environment? 

If not properly disposed of, most types of plastic plant pots in use today are bad for the environment.

Furthermore, unless you have a new type of biodegradable plastic pot, you are looking at hundreds of years before the pot breaks down when not recycled. 

Therefore, flower pots are better off when reused instead of going in the trash. 


With so many plastic plant pots in use around the country every year, it is important to know what to do with them when you are finished. While it is not easy to recycle these pots, it can be done and is very beneficial for the environment. 

Furthermore, what is even better is to consider how to reuse them from one season to the next or for a non-gardening purpose. If you can do this, then you will be helping the environment. 


  • Jean Richardson

    Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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